CEC: Competencies, Connections, Community

Posted on June 3, 2016


Amy Parker , Ed.D. & COMS  - NCDB Coordinator of Professional Development and Products

     It is hard to believe that a month has passed since the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) hosted its international convention in St. Louis, MO. Several members of our network were there and actively engaged in conversations about the work that is being accomplished in the field of deaf-blindness. Just before the 2016 convention, NCDB hosted a small group to analyze and review the remaining Open Hands, Open Access (OHOA) module content. The OHOA modules are designed to align with CEC’s nationally recognized competencies to ensure that intervener training programs develop interveners with knowledge and skills that meet the needs of students who are deaf-blind across the nation (NCDB, 2012). NCDB has hosted three previous module alignment sessions, using a process that was influenced by leaders in personnel preparation programs for interveners, (Zambone & Monaco, 2013). In these sessions, module content is reviewed, documenting competencies that are presented in readings, videos, and learning activities. Additionally, reviewers note the types of challenges that are presented to module participants, applying Bloom’s taxonomy to note how adult learning may be measured within the OHOA module assignments. In St. Louis, the module reviewers discussed findings with each module’s author as well as with the whole group. In addition to the field testing applied to each module, this expert review has also been used iteratively to make further refinements to the module content. All 27 OHOA modules have been found, both through field testing and expert review, to cover the concepts that are outlined in the CEC competencies, particularly when they are hosted as a connected set of training opportunities that may be applied in practice with supports from hosts.  As we wind down module production, this is exciting news!

     Interveners, even highly competent ones, cannot meet all of the educational needs of students who are deaf-blind. Families, teachers and other team members are critically important to the support of interveners and in assisting deaf-blind students with connecting and thriving in the community (NCDB, 2012). The modules were never meant to be just a stand-alone resource for training interveners.  Currently, state and university partners are using the 18 published modules in a variety of ways to host groups of adult learners to increase their knowledge and skills to support students who are deaf-blind. In a low incidence community like ours, growing and cultivating groups of interested learners can only help states and school systems understand how much can be achieved when students have access to qualified personnel and passionate educational teams. While the alignment meeting in St. Louis was only a day, it was an important milestone in the effort to produce a high quality, community resource for supporting intervention with students who are deaf-blind.

9 women sit on steps of house

                                     Module Alignment Crew - 2013, Portland, OR

Group of men and women pose in meeting room.  Module reviewers

                                        Module Alignment Crew - 2014, Denver, CO         

Group of men and women in front of brick building.  Bright sunshine.  Module review group

                                      Module Alignment Crew - 2016, St. Louis, MO

     In addition to hosting the OHOA alignment meeting, a few NCDB staff members joined colleagues from our national community at the CEC convention, attending the Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness (DVIDB) social, presentations, posters, and the Teacher and Intervener community forum. Participating in larger special education organizations like the CEC is an important investment. In the exchange of ideas, we learn about policy and regulatory concerns within the broader special education context. Members of the deaf-blind network also represent the needs of students who are deaf-blind and their families within an organization that helps shape the future of special education.

     The Teacher and Intervener forum was an open community meeting with practitioners and researchers to exchange information about current initiatives in the fields of deaf-blindness and visual impairment. Special guest presenters, Mark Richert, the Director of Public Policy and Rebecca Sheffield, Senior Policy Analyst from the American Foundation for the Blind, presented a policy update on the efforts around the Cogswell-Macy Act. Attendees shared perspectives on policy and current practice needs. The forum highlight featured two student advocates - Aubrey Williams, representing the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation, and Paloma Rambana, one of CEC’s “Yes I Can” award winners.  These two young women shared their viewpoints on how teachers, interveners and parents can support better educational outcomes for students with deaf-blindness and for those with visual impairments. Themes shared from these young women involved seeing the potential in all students, getting to know students as individuals, and supporting student voices as advocates and leaders.

Man, woman and two young woman pose at conference

                         Aubrey Williams, Mark Richert, Paloma Rambana, Rebecca Sheffield - CEC 2016


National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness. (2012). Recommendations for improving intervener services. Retrieved from

Zambone, A. & Monaco, C. (2013, 2014, 2016) OHOA Modules Competencies and Bloom's Taxonomy Analysis Tool. Unpublished document.

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